Mambesi Goje has made Vision AfriKa proud. The 19-year-old, who was born, brought up and went to school in the Kayamandi township, is now in her second year of studying for a four-year BCom degree in Investment Management at Stellenbosch University.
She still lives with her mum and dad and little brother, Hlomla, but is rarely at home these days, spending most of her time at University instead. She still loves reading novels and poetry when she has time though.
We speak to Mambesi about what Vision AfriKa has meant to her and what she learned during her time on the programme:
Q. How did you get involved with Vision AfriKa in the first place?
A. In 2009, my teacher gave me some VisionK forms and forced me to fill them in. I wasn’t really very interested in the programme at the time, but now am forever grateful to my teacher for forcing me into it as I’ve grown so much as a person as a result. I’ve learned so many different things, but, just as importantly, have made some everlasting friendships too.
Q. What did the Vision AfriKa programme entail?
A. We had lots of discussions about life and social issues, our hopes and dreams etc. We also took part in lots of outings and camps that were intended to encourage self-development, but which were fun too.
One of my favourite excursions was climbing Table Mountain because it was a challenge, but I managed to reach the top in less than two hours. Cape Town looks so much better from up there. The experience taught me that nothing is impossible or out-of-reach in life, if only you put your mind to it.
Another valuable trip was going to a leadership camp. There I learned leadership skills and how to deal with people from different backgrounds. The experience taught me never to give up no matter how difficult the circumstances that you face may be.
Q. What are the most important things you learned from taking part in the Vision AfriKa programme?
The most significant thing that I took away from the programme is that I am the biggest obstacle to making my own dreams become reality, but I am also the only person who can achieve them. This lesson was important because it showed me that I need to deal with my own attitudes and the way I look at things before I look at anything else.
Another vital lesson was to respect others – and it is one that I will follow for the rest of my life. It is now clear to me that everyone is different, but that respect must be earned. If we all respect each other, however, we will be better people and society will be better too.
A further change to my perspective is that I no longer believe I should just sit around and wait for the government to give me handouts, or blame them when things go wrong. Instead I can achieve what I want to achieve in life by standing on my own two feet, by striving for better and not placing limitations on myself.
Vision Afrika has helped me focus and set my heart on goals that I want to achieve – and I now know that neither my colour nor my gender will stop me from attaining my dreams.
A. What are your plans for the future and how do you intend to apply the lessons you have learned so far in your life?
After completing my Honours degree, I intend to find some work to help finance me in undertaking a Masters, followed by a PhD.
One of the things that I learned at Vision AfriKa is that, as people, we need to share and help educate each other. The fact is that we don’t need necessarily have to be teachers to educate isizwe (the nation) – we can educate others as we learn ourselves.